Interested In Spending One Day in Tallinn? Here Are Some Local Tips!
Heading for Tallinn and short one time? Having a full one-day itinerary for the Estonian capital city might help you make the most of it! Whether you’re coming to Tallinn on a cruise or you’re looking to wander the UNESCO medieval Old Town on your own self-guided tour, there is something for everyone in Tallinn.
Tallinn is a great city – Eric visited a few years ago while travelling and really enjoyed it. Lisa has unfortunately never been but we’ve always wanted to explore the city together.
Luckily for you, we’ve got a local connection to show you around! Eric’s good friend Minna is from Tallinn (born and raised) so she knows her city well!
Minna was nice enough to write a complete guide on how to spend a perfect day in Tallinn from sights to check out, to where you should eat, go out, and more. So, we’ll let Minna the local take it from here to tell you all about visiting Tallinn in a day!
If you’re looking for more posts on travelling this region of Europe, check out these other helpful guides:
Wake Up Activity (Optional): Experience Sunrise on Linnahall
One of the best things about the nightlife scene in Tallinn is that places stay open until really late. If you’re up for it, you can easily dance your heart out until 5-6 am, in some cases even longer.
If ending the night then still seems too early, head up to the roof of Linnahall – an abandoned old concert hall near the harbour – to watch the sunrise and witness the city slowly come to life. It is easy to reach, accessible for everyone (i.e. completely legal) and definitely worth your while.
Breakfast at Kohvik August
Kohvik (Estonian for cafe) August – located at the very beginning of Tallinn’s Old Town – is a great little cafe and a perfect starting place for your adventurous day in the Estonian capital.
Do it like locals and order a bowl of porridge with some delicious toppings and you can be sure that it keeps you feeling full for many hours to come. Alternatively, try some of their famous smoothies or omelettes. Kohvik August opens at 8:30 am on week-days and 10 on weekends. You can learn more about Kohvik August here.
Address: Väike-Karja 5, Tallinn
Getting Around Tallinn/Tallinn Day Tours
This is a good time to talk about getting around in the city. Tallinn is a pretty compact city so it’s definitely walkable. That said, it’s got a bit of a hilly Old Town and there are sights to check out farther from the centre. Those wanting to save their feet from getting sore (or those with limited mobility) might be interested in utilizing public transit or hopping on a guided tour.
The Tallinn transit system is pretty extensive and comprised of buses, trolleys, and trams. You can learn all about tickets and fares for a day in Tallinn at the official website. If you know you want to visit attractions and use transit, you might want to look into the Tallinn Card.
Another good way to see Tallinn (also if you are limited on time) is on some sort of guided tour. There are different Tallinn tours to choose from – many of which focus on the rich history of the city and its unique culture.
>> A Hop-on Hop-Off Tallinn Bus Tour
>> Guided 2-Hour Tallinn Bike Tour
>> A Private Tallinn Walking Tour with a Local
>> Tallinn Tour By Bus and on Foot
Morning Activity: Explore the Old Town
For the rest of the morning, you’ll stay in Tallinn’s Old Town to explore around every corner. There are loads of historic sites to visit, important landmarks to see, and beautiful photographs to take so lace up your shoes and get going!
Only a 5-minute walk from Kohvik August, the large and modern Freedom Square sits right on the edge of the Old Town. Even though not all locals appreciate the aesthetic of the Victory Column, the meaning behind it is something that is close to every Estonian’s heart.
The square with the column commemorates the Estonian War of Independence (1918-1920) and is a popular spot for anniversary parades and concerts. In addition to that, it is a hot spot for the city’s skateboarders. To gain a higher perspective of the area, it is worth it to quickly go up Harju Mägi – the little hill that sits next to the square.
Address: Vabaduse väljak 9, 10142 Tallinn, Estonia
>> To explore the Old Town in-depth and learn local history, consider a top-rated Tallinn Medieval Old Town walking tour
St. Nicholas Church
This medieval church is one of the landmarks of Tallinn and is currently also used as a museum and a concert venue. Every year during the Christmas period (December-January), a beautiful ice rink is opened in front of the church.
Join the many local kids (and adults), strap on your skates, listen to some cheesy tunes from the loud-speakers and pirouette-it-up while admiring the stunning architecture of the Old Town.
Address: Niguliste 3, 10146 Tallinn, Estonia
Town Hall Square (Raekoja plats)
Perhaps the most important landmark of Tallinn, the Town Hall Square is located in the heart of the Old Town. Home to Tallinn’s world-famous Christmas market during winter and lovely outdoor cafes in the summer, Raekoja plats is something you can not miss while wandering in the Old Town.
The medieval Town Hall is the oldest of its kind in the whole Baltic region and Scandinavia. Make sure you spot Old Thomas – the brave little weathervane on top of the spire – since he is yet another symbol of Tallinn that you can also notice on many souvenirs.
Address: Raekoja plats 1, 10146 Tallinn, Estonia
Viru Street is the main street in the Old Town and leads all the way from Town Hall Square until the end of the medieval part of Tallinn. You can find many shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars here but since it is a hot spot, everything tends to be a tad overpriced. When walking down the street you will eventually reach the old city gates and the famous flower market.
Choose one of the crooked cobblestone streets, alleyways or stairs to make your way up to Toompea – the hill that represents all things power and governance. I would recommend taking either the Lühike or Pikk jalg (Short or Long leg) up and Patkuli stairs down.
On the hill, you will find both the Estonian Government and Parliament (Toompea castle or Riigikogu in Estonian) buildings along with the Tall Hermann tower – home to the most important Estonian flag in the world. The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a beautiful example of Russian orthodox architecture and is juxtaposed with the nearby Lutheran Toomkirik.
Behind the latter, you will find two viewing platforms (Kohtuotsa and Patkuli) that offer fantastic views over the city from different angles. The Kohtuotsa platform comes with a bonus – a resident seagull who is happy to pose for photographs.
For your way down to the lower Old Town, why not grab a cone of Tallinn’s signature warm sweet almonds that are being sold in various stalls around the Old Town (including next to Kohtuotsa platform). They are hand-made with 16 different spices and 4 sugars and are a perfect little sweet snack to keep your energy levels in check.
St. Olaf’s Church
The black-green tower of St. Olaf’s Church is unmistakable in the panorama of Tallinn. This 12th-century church was at one point the highest building in Europe and has been struck by lightning over 10 times and burned down completely 3 times. Today it stands 124 meters tall and the clock tower is open for visitors.
Address: Lai 50, 10133 Tallinn, Estonia
Lunch at Kompressor
Kompressor is one of Tallinn’s best-kept secrets. It is known by locals as the best pancake place in town. Hidden away in a side street in the Old Town, this pub offers incredibly generous portions for a very cheap price.
You can choose from a large variety of both salty and sweet pancakes, plus some other tasty snacks (I would recommend the cheese balls!). Calculate some extra time for decision-making because there is just so much to choose from! You can read about the menu at Kompressor here.
Address: Rataskaevu 3, 10123, Tallinn
>> Want to keep exploring? Enjoy food and drinks on a Tallinn Local Food Tour
Afternoon Activity: Discover the Rotermanni Quarter and Kadriorg
After lunch, it’s time to head out again to explore because you only have one day to do it! For this wander session, there are two areas you should check out that will help you get a more well-rounded impression of the city.
Welcome to New Tallinn! The Rotermanni Quarter starts pretty much right where Old Town ends and shows you a completely different side of Tallinn – that of fancy hotels, designer shops, and 5-star restaurants. This part of the city is relatively new and basically rose from the ashes within a few years.
When you are passing by, do notice how cleverly architects have used old industrial buildings and turned them into new modern ones. Stop by Tallinn Design House to get acquainted with local designer’s newest creations – be it tech, clothes or dishes.
Another friendly recommendation would be to buy a couple of the best cinnamon buns in town from RØST Bakery (Rotermanni 14, 10111 Tallinn) and save them in your bag for later.
Jump on a tram from right next to Rotermanni and ride a few stops until you reach the picturesque neighbourhood of Kadriorg. Walk through the (subjectively) most beautiful park in Tallinn, visit the Japanese garden and take a look at the Presidential Palace. On the other side of the park, you will find Kumu – the Estonian Arts Museum.
As well as being an architectural masterpiece, Kumu also holds all the most important works of Estonian art. While a few floors are dedicated to the classics, there are always a couple of “travelling” exhibitions as well as a whole floor for modern art.
Kumu is the perfect afternoon activity for when the weather is not the best and this, unfortunately, can happen often in Estonia. You can plan a visit to Kumu here.
Address for Kumu: Valge 1, 10127 Tallinn, Estonia
Afternoon Break at Kadrioru Park
If the weather is bearable though, grab a bench by the pond at Kadrioru Park after your museum visit and pull out those delicious cinnamon buns you stocked up on earlier. Feel free to sit on the grass but pay attention if the weather is really nice!
I know it is tempting to go topless (if you are a guy) or quickly switch to your bikini top (if you are a girl) and crack open a cold beer/cider, but neither of these activities are allowed.
Kadrioru Park is famous for its notorious park guard – an older gentleman on a bike – who will not hesitate to blow his whistle and pedal towards you full-speed to stop you from breaking the park rules. If sitting outside is not an option, don’t worry, Kumu museum has a decent cafe where you can enjoy a hot drink and a snack.
Address for Kadrioru Park: A. Weizenbergi 26, 10127 Tallinn, Estonia
Early Evening Activity: Sunset + Kalamaja District
Pirita Seafront and/or Tallinn TV Tower
Depending on when you are visiting, it might now be time for sunset. Tallinn is definitely geographically blessed in this case – every night the sun drops right into the sea making it a stunning (and photogenic) sight and – thanks to our long seafront – very easy to observe.
It is an easy walk from Kadriorg to the Pirita seafront – a place that has the best panoramic views of the city. If you have more time on your hands (maybe you skipped Kumu altogether?), jump on a bus and head to Tallinn TV tower.
With its 313 meters, it is the tallest building in Tallinn and has a 360-degree observation deck as well as exhibitions and a restaurant. I went up the Tower with Eric when he visited and even though it was cloudy, it was still a great experience! You can check out tickets for the TV Tower here.
Address TV Tower: Kloostrimetsa tee 58a, 11913 Tallinn, Estonia
Now that the sun has set, I recommend you give your legs a little rest and take the tram all the way to the trendiest region of Tallinn – Kalamaja (translates as “fish house” in English). This district – home to artists, musicians, and other free-spirited people – is perfect for an evening stroll.
Marvel at the colourful wooden houses and many-many artisan cafes, bars, and shops. In Kalamaja, you also find the newly built Balti Jaama Turg – a big market place offering everything from fruit to street food to clothes and jewellery.
Address Balti Jaama Turg: Kopli 1, 10412 Tallinn, Estonia
Dinner at F-hoone
Right next to the Balti Jaama market, you will find the true gem of Tallinn – the Telliskivi Creative Area. Before you start sampling the various Estonian craft beers offered in Telliskivi’s many cool bars, make sure you are fully fed for your night of debauchery! No better place to do that than F-hoone – a restaurant loved by tourists and locals alike.
It is highly suggested you try their Furger (F-hoone + burger = furger) – a black bread burger available both for vegans and meat-eaters. Since F-hoone is a popular place, check out their website to make a reservation beforehand either by calling or online to make sure you get a table.
Address: Telliskivi 60a, 10412 Tallinn
Evening Activity: Bar Crawling in Telliskivi or Old Town
The thing to do in Tallinn at night is to check out the nightlife. Luckily, there are lots of different areas and places to go that suit lots of different styles – from craft beer and cocktails to clubbers and more. Tallinn has a great nightlife scene offering something for everyone.
Stick around Telliskivi if you are more into the chill alternative vibes, or head back to the city centre if you are craving a fancier cocktail or two, followed by a dance session in a nightclub.
For dancing head to Sveta bar, club Uus Laine or PADA (in the summertime). Keep in mind that locals usually head to clubs late – around midnight the earliest – so don’t be surprised if places are rather empty before that.
In the Old Town why not start your night with a mysterious vibe – try speak-easy style bars like Parrot MiniBar (ask to see the “surprise” in the wardrobe, the staff will know what you mean) or Whisper Sister.
Other cool places include Tabac Brasserie, Paar Veini (wine bar) and Must Puudel. A safe-bet nightclub choice is Club Studio on Sauna street. This popular dance haven plays mainstream pop downstairs and techno upstairs.
>> Need a Guided Evening Out? Hop on a Tallinn Old Town Pub Crawl
And there you have it – a complete rundown of how to spend one day in Tallinn, Estonia! Eric really loved Tallinn and is itching to head back so Lisa can explore, too! A huge shout out to Minna for sharing her local knowledge to explore Tallinn like a pro. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @kiisumets if you’re interested!
As always, Happy Tallinn Day Waddlin’,
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